John Edward Leafer, 70, of Muskogee, Oklahoma passed away Wednesday, February 27, 2013 in Muskogee with his family at his side. John was born September 10, 1942 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma to John and Margaret (Erwin) Leafer. He attended Grandview Elementary School, Tahlequah Jr. High, and Tahlequah High School where he graduated in 1960. John attended college at Connors Junior College and Northeastern State College (NSU). After graduating from Northeastern State College with a degree in Physical Education, he joined the Army Reserve. He began his teaching career at West Jr. High in Muskogee. He taught at Muskogee High School, Bacone Jr. College, NSU, Sequoyah High School, and Coweta High School. He retired in 2003 from Muskogee High School where he served the last two years as Muskogee’s Athletic Director. He coached football at West Jr. High; football and baseball at Muskogee High School; baseball at Bacone and NSU, and football and baseball at Coweta High School.
John’s highlights while coaching at Muskogee High School were four state tournament appearances capping his baseball coaching career off with a state championship in 1974. He had 19 players drafted into Major League Baseball. His most memorable season was in 1970 when he coached football and his team was undefeated. John was instrumental in placing MPS athletics in the prestigious Frontier Conference and being the front runner in having turf installed on the Indian Bowl playing surface. During his years of coaching and teaching driver’s education, he enjoyed his students and impacted many young lives by teaching not only skills but life lessons. He was a man of integrity and will be missed by many.
John married Mary Jane Grimes on October 6, 1967 and made Muskogee their home. He was a member of First Baptist Church and helped teach Sunday School for many years. One of his proudest moments was when he was ordained as a deacon in 2012. He served on various church committees over the years. He was a member of the Gideons organization and teacher organizations. John loved playing golf with friends, being around his children and grandchildren, watching football and gardening. He was a hands-on Papa and would do anything his grandchildren asked of him. They loved for him to come outside and play with them. He was a devoted husband and best friend, father, and “papa.” He was always there for his family, whatever the need. For many years, he enjoyed going to the OU football games and keeping passing statistics in the press box.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane Leafer and two children; son, Chris Leafer and daughter, Carrie Leafer; grandchildren, Cole Harding Leafer, Emily Nicole Leafer, Camryn Lacy Sherwood, and Ryan Cole Sherwood; brother, Jonathan Taylor and wife Carolyn of Dallas, Texas; nieces, Cindy Smith, Sherry Sparks, and Jodi Mosley; nephews, Michael Taylor and Scott Taylor; sister-in-law, Sally Shipman and her daughter, Taylor Shipman.
In lieu of flowers the family would prefer donation to either the children’s ministry at First Baptist Church, 111 South 7th Street, Muskogee, OK, 74401 or the Gideons International, P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, TN, 37214-0800. The family would like to thank Theresa and the aides at Eastgate Retirement Village and Hometown Hospice for their compassionate care.
Funeral services will be Tuesday, March 5, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church with Dr. Lance Sawyer and Bill Crow officiating. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Darrell Wood, David Wood, Bob Jefferson, Bill Pearson, Andrew Summers and Chris Condley. Honorary pallbearers will be Russ Hayes, Bill Pearson, Sr., Tommy Lashley and John Nichol.
Funeral services are under the direction of Cornerstone Funeral Home and Crematory, 1830 North York Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.cornerstoneofmuskogee.com